Italian cuisine and pasta have become synonymous everywhere. But somehow I have seen people here (in India) obsessed with only two kinds of pasta – in red sauce or in white sauce. Well you can make pastas even without the same old sauce. How about pasta with pesto? A classic recipe from Trapani – it’s a small province of Sicily.
Italians love their pomodoro & basilico and so do I. [tomato & basil respectively]. This is a David Rocco inspired recipe btw.
All that you need:
- Tomato – 3 chopped
- Garlic – 4-6 cloves
- Eggplant – 1 sliced thin
- Potato – 1 sliced thin
- Spaghetti – 250g (you can use a pasta of your choice)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 1 cup (for pesto as well as frying the potato & eggplant)
- Salt – to taste
- Oregano – 1 teaspoon
- Thyme – 1 teaspoon
- Basil – a hand full
- Pecorino cheese – as much you like!
Let’s get started:
Making this Pesto alla Trapanese is very simple.
Put the tomatoes, garlic & basil leaves in a grinder and coarsely grind them. Add salt and half a cup of extra virgin olive oil to make a smooth pesto. [Traditionally these are supposed to be done in a large stone mortar & pestle – but I don’t have it so I am sticking to my blender]
In a frying pan heat some olive oil and pan fry the eggplant & potato slices. [Before frying I dust them with little salt usually, that helps is reducing the water and lessens the frying time]. Take out of flame and drain excess oil on a kitchen paper.
Cook the spaghetti in hot boiling salted water for 15 mins or till it’s just becoming soft. Don’t overcook it – it will just start falling apart.
Now here’s my twist – Put the tomato pesto in the frying pan, add the cooked spaghetti & fried potato & eggplant and toss them together. Add some thyme and 1 ladle of the pasta water. It really helps to get the pasta together.
Add a generous amount of grated pecorino cheese.
And you are done – add a sprinkling of oregano and enjoy!